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Michael Benge November 18, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Running In Place - Page 11

As one of Engle's nearly 5000 Facebook friends, Roman (who would be seen at the 10-miler on Sunday pushing a running stroller cradling a disabled youth) contacted Engle last year out of the blue, asking him to come to Florida to speak at a CAF fundraising event. "Charlie's life is all about overcoming adversity," he explains. On his own dime, Engle made the trip.

"The best thing about Charlie is that he just commits. He'll be on board with you till the end," says Roman. "He is not the guy who needs to be taken out of society. He adds to everyone around him."

Up on stage, Engle gave props to Elaine Daniels, 50, of Greensboro, who had apparently frequently dropped off meals during the trial and its aftermath. Daniels had met him when, as a board member of the Greensboro running club, she had booked him to speak at a 2002 gathering.

"Charlie is such a motivator, and one of the most candid, open, honest, compassionate people I know," says Daniels, a two-time breast-cancer survivor. After her second diagnosis, she signed up to run a marathon but lacked motivation. "He can be brutally honest and cut to the chase," she continues. "He said, `Why don't you just quit running then?' He had the instinct to know how to inspire me.'" Daniels finished the marathon.

That night, Engle stressed that his primary motivation for the gathering was to garner support for his two boys. "I want you all to know and look out for my children," he said, and, joking, "and make their lives hell."

Said Brett, a lanky, friendly teenager with a burr cut, "I'm proud of the way he's handled [the conviction]. And he is the most supportive father I could wish for. I've screwed up and he's always there and loves me unconditionally."

Asked what is Engle's greatest attribute, says Ray Zahab, unhesitantly, "Dad. He has two amazing boys and is such a great father. I hope my children grow up as capable and happy as Charlie's kids."

Engle's downsides? Zahab says the biggest is that he "spreads himself so thin to accommodate his friends. He really wants to be there for everyone."

A KNOCK ON THE DOOR

Engle's troubles began in April 2009 with a knock on his door, or rather a ring of the security buzzer at the apartment complex in which he lived. The person calling was a stocky man named Robert W. Nordlander, who produced a badge identifying himself as an IRS Criminal Investigator. Nordlander informed Engle that he was under investigation for tax evasion.

According to Nordlander's trial testimony, he had been following Engle's career in local newspapers, and began to wonder how Engle financed running all over the world, and what Nordlander called a "lavish lifestyle." Nordlander takes his job seriously—before the Grand Jury, says Richard Engle and others who attended the trial, Nordlander testified that if he sees someone driving a Ferrari who doesn't look like he should be, he will "run" his license plate and pull his tax return.

After over 600 hours of investigation, which included examining Engle's trash for discarded mail and other documents, an undercover-agent recording with Engle and impounding his mail (compliments of the Patriot Act), Nordlander had no case for tax-code violations or failure to report income. So he turned to investigating loans obtained by Engle on two properties he owned in Cape Charles, Virginia, using information obtained from the tax-evasion investigation.



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